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"One week from today is Thanksgiving Day here in the US. And while the exact origin of the holiday may be unclear, the intent of the day still rings true: there is always something to be grateful for in our lives. Whether it’s that we have stayed healthy during a pandemic, had the support of friends and family during difficult times, experienced success in whatever way we define it, or even just made it through another year, gratitude is a state of mind that’s a universal part of the human experience."...

Dear Readers: In the USA, tomorrow is a day of Thanksgiving. And while the exact origin of the holiday may be unclear, the intent of the day still rings true: there is always something to be grateful for in our lives. Be that health, friends and family, success in whatever way we define it, or life itself, gratitude is a state of mind that’s a universal part of the human experience. It turns out it’s also deeply embedded in the Five Elements model. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. After all, a model that claims to be no less than a complete explanation of the workings of the universe will have to contain gratitude. And it does. In the Five Elements model, each element owes its existence and ability to function in a balanced manner to the other four. And in a very profound way, when one element receives help from another, the receiving element pays it forward, so to speak, by doing the same for a different element in the system. If Water is running low, Metal sends energy to Water. And Water will do the same for Wood, just as Wood will send energy to Fire, Fire will send it to Earth, and Earth will feed it back to Metal. It’s a neverending flow of giving that’s a key hallmark of the Five Elements model. The other hallmark of the model is the ability of each element to ensure that no element overdoes it. If Wood has too much energy, Metal will reach across the model and decrease the excess. This guarantees Wood’s survival and in gratitude for that service, Wood will do the same for Earth, just as Earth will decrease excess for Water, Water will decrease Fire, and Fire will return the initial favor back to Metal. And while our “more is better” culture usually sees a decrease in something as bad, in reality it’s crucial for survival. There is joy in the model at both increase and decrease. But does that translate to people? I can answer that with an unequivocal, “Yes!” Let’s take a look. Water people need fuel for their big ideas, and the synthesized information Metals provide to Water fits the bill perfectly. Their “gratitude” to Metal is expressed when Waters actually use what Metals provide, thereby acknowledging its importance. Metals like to feel that what they do is important. But if Waters receive too much information, they risk spreading themselves too thin by trying to use everything, and shallow water evaporates quickly. So when Earth steps in and contains Water, Water survives. Water’s gratitude is expressed to Earth though its ability to keep excess Fire from scalding Earth. Wood people need big ideas to manifest. They get big ideas from Waters and express their gratitude by manifesting something Water can imagine, but never create itself. Waters like to see their ideas come to life; it validates them. But too many ideas from Water can put Woods at risk because they will try to manifest them all. So...

Dear Readers: Disagreement is an important reality of life for humans. Since developing the ability for advanced cognitive processing, we’ve rarely completely agreed on anything. Possibly the directions of up and down, and maybe that gravity exists, but beyond that, a difference of opinion is the norm. And that’s fine, good, and necessary as long as disagreement doesn’t degenerate into violence. The ability to think abstractly sets humans apart from other animals, but sadly, so does our tendency for violence in the name of an idea, desire, or belief. The deadly events in Charlottesville last weekend highlighted this unfortunate aspect of human behavior. What happened there was an attempt to defy the most American of premises: That all people are created equal and are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Class and economic distinctions may come and go, but the supremacy of one race over another flies in the face of our country’s founding documents. It also ignores the value of diversity. As humans, we can be equal, but different, and it’s those differences that give us strength as a people. While the concept of diversity clearly hasn’t yet found universal acceptance, to those who say it’s impossible to embrace diversity, I would like to offer the perfect example of why diversity is not only possible, but is absolutely necessary. For over three thousand years, the Five Elements model has taught that any whole can be separated into five equal, but very different, parts. In the model, these five parts are represented by Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal. Further, in the model, the stability of the whole depends solely on the health and balance of these five interrelated parts. No single element is more important than the others; all five are needed. In fact, the ongoing interaction of the five not only guarantees that the whole will flourish, it also keeps each of the individual elements balanced and strong within themselves. In truth, the Five Elements model is the perfect representation of the necessity of diversity. You might say that the Five Elements model is just that, a mere model – it isn’t real life. But what is a model other than a theoretical concept that attempts to explain real life? We use the accepted model of the Earth orbiting the sun to explain the observed fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. And while some might say that Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal are not people, in the whole we call humanity, we do see five distinct personalities that correspond to each of the elements. And the beauty of the model is that when any one of the elements is out of balance (either with too little or too much presence), it is automatically helped by one of the other elements. The system contains within itself all that is needed to maintain optimal functioning. Humans are the same. As a group, if we try, we can bring what is needed for all...